All Articles Food Q&A: Retailers and brands must collaborate to minimize risk, build consumer trust


Q&A: Retailers and brands must collaborate to minimize risk, build consumer trust

In this interview, Oracle’s leader of global retail supply chain transparency, Paul Woodward, discusses how retailers can work with suppliers to deliver comprehensive product information and respond quickly in the event of a recall.

5 min read


Q&A: Retailers and brands must collaborate to minimize risk, build consumer trust


This post is sponsored by Oracle.


Demand for product information is at an all-time high as consumers place more importance on health, sustainability and transparency. Technology is making it easier to obtain product information, allowing brands and retailers to keep consumers informed and minimize risk by tracking products through the supply chain. To maximize the benefit of new technology, retailers and manufacturers need to work together.

We interviewed Oracle Retail Senior Director of Retail Supply Chain Solutions Paul Woodward about what information consumers value most, how retailers can work with suppliers to make sure they have the most current product information and how monitoring data can streamline day-to-day operations and make brands and retailers more prepared in the event of a recall.

There is an overwhelming amount of information for food retailers to keep track of when it comes to products and suppliers, and consumer demand for transparency is at an all-time high. What information is most valuable to shoppers and how can retailers present this info in a way that builds consumer trust?

A decade ago the majority of consumers had a much lower level of awareness and sensitivity to allergens and nutritional risks. Today, dietary and wellbeing claims are vital to consumers around the world aiming to live a healthy lifestyle and their importance is reinforced by media attention to risks and the growing fitness market. In 2016 we conducted a survey called The Power and the Money of more than 13,200 consumers across 12 countries and uncovered some interesting sentiments, such as the fact that consumers ranked quality assurance as their highest priority when shopping — higher than value or product availability. In fact, more than 42% of the global respondents said they demand to know where products are sourced from. Accurate labeling is the first step in the process — whether it be back-of-pack, an in-store digital kiosk or information on the web. Retailers that are not already preparing for the new Nutrition Facts label requirements issued by the FDA in May 2016 need to take stock and develop an action plan for compliance. In our view this is not a static issue as regulations and requirements will continue to evolve. Using a manual process to verify accuracy and compliance is not scalable; our advice is to implement a lifecycle management system like Oracle Retail Brand Compliance Management Cloud Service.

In addition to providing product info to help consumers make informed choices, retailers need to keep a close watch on the supply chain so they can quickly react to recalls and other product issues. What can retailers do to be prepared in the event of a recall?

As an industry we need to work better together to anticipate risks, simplify the process of data capture and increase collaboration across the supply chain. When an incident occurs, it’s the speed of response that ensures continued consumer trust in the brand. Having the data instantly available and a collaborative supply chain solution to rapidly verify and execute change is vital. These same solutions enable brand owners to position risk assessment earlier in the process, eliminate duplicate and manual data capture, and introduce intuitive data entry and validation routines to ensure a “right first time” approach. This improves data accuracy by 80%, reducing the risk of recalls by 40%.

Who should take the lead on implementing a transparent supply chain, retailers or suppliers?

If it’s your name on the label, it’s your product and therefore your problem. Consumers are increasingly demanding greater transparency and assurances on product safety, origins, supply chain ethics and environmental impacts. The consumer and media hold the brand owner responsible for ensuring this information is available, correct and maintained. Although failure may be in the supply chain, it’s the brand that is negatively affected both in reputation and value.

What can retailers do to incentivize suppliers to provide comprehensive, current product information?

Introducing intuitive, collaborative solutions that help suppliers capture, assess and publish data is essential. The Oracle Retail Brand Compliance Cloud Service is used by more than 20,000 vendors globally supplying 750,000 products worth $80 billion to the world’s leading private label retailers. In our experience retailers that have an intuitive system that demonstrates value to suppliers encourage contribution and compliance.

Paul Woodward leads Oracle’s global retail supply chain transparency, collaboration and product safety initiatives. He has more than 20 years of experience in the development of supply chain and product compliance solutions. As the founder of the market’s leading brand compliance solution, Paul has worked with many of world’s most significant brands and retailers to establish solutions, standards and best practices that are used daily by the global private label market.


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